Goan food is always a great temptation. What with the myriad flavours and array of dishes to choose from? Chef Vasco Silveira’s Goan Food festival at Bayview Restaurant in Hotel Marine Plaza took me by surprise. The food was traditionally Goan, but with a twist, that’s because of the chef’s Portuguese- Angola influence.
With five menus that rotate over the 10 day festival starting July 10, you will definitely not sample the same thing twice unless you make a conscious effort to do so.The usual spread consists of soups, starters, mains and desserts with ample vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.
Over a chat with Chef Vasco, we tried the chicken soup. The soup was a mildly tempered broth with pieces of chicken, veggies and noodles tossed in. It was flavourful, but not exceptional. Did not tantalize my taste buds enough.
For starters we had spiced pan fried chicken, squids with pesto sauce, stuffed mushrooms and veg-croquettes. The batter coated deep-fried Mushrooms stuffed with herbs and cheese and the chicken starters were delicious. In fact the mushrooms got my vote instantly. Melt in the mouth, these were a class apart. The squids tossed in garlic butter and served on Pesto sauce, too were palate pleasing. The chicken had an interesting marinade.
The main course was laden with Fish—. Prawn Vindaloo, Lamb Stew and Chicken Curry. Rajma Xacuti, Mushroom Chilli fry, Channa Pulao, Potato Loaded! And these were just a few of the sumptuous buffet spread.
Of the main course, The Lamb Stew and the Fish Escabech stood apart. The lamb was tender and succulent. We were told the lamb is cooked in red wine. Certainly aromatic. The stew with generous amounts of potatoes, was light and comforting. Enjoyed it thoroughly.
The fish, placed on a bed of caramelised onions and juliennes of bell pepper, was lightly tossed in some Goan herbs. The Potato Loaded, was true to its name. King sized potatoes were halved and the centre scooped to from a large cup which was loaded with veggies in white sauce. These dishes were more continental than, Goan, actually.
The Vindaloo was a coarsely ground paste of Chillies. It was rustic and fiery. The chilli overpowered all the other spices and the vinegar. The Chicken curry was pleasant, as was the Mushroom Chilli Fry and Rajma Xacuti.
For desserts there was the traditional Bebinca, a layered pudding and the Bolo Sans Rival (A cake without rival) a layered cake of French origin. The chef informed us that traditionally Almonds were used, but he chose Cashew as they are not only sweet but also easily available in Goa. Both the desserts were perfect in their texture and sweet content. I could live on those 365 days with guilty pleasure.
Overall, Chef Vasco’s spread was elaborate and quite interesting. Given his vast experience of running a restaurant in Goa, he is obviously adept at his culinary creations.
With most of his dishes being under-spiced and with somewhat less salt it seemed that he caters largely to the uninitiated Goans and Europeans, as the traditional dishes lacked the authenticity and the punch of the land. Perhaps intentionally.
And most of all, the traditional Goan Fish Curry and the rustic brown rice was definitely missing from the menu. It was like searching for the Goan in Goa!
But nevertheless, it was a pleasant experience with Konkani music et al, which I would willingly repeat, if only for chef’s innovative streak. Viva Goa!